How to Prepare Yourself Before Taking Up That New Position

So, you have been appointed to a new senior or management position. Congratulations! Obviously, you will want to get off to the best possible start - that's important for your own self - confidence and for the impression you make on your colleagues. Often, however, some people feel inadequate in those first few weeks, particularly if they're coming from outside the organisation. So, to assist you to overcome any initial uncertainty and to help you feel secure when you take over your new job, here is some useful advice.

1. Take time to plan and prepare for the move
Time spent in planning and preparing in advance for your new job will pay dividends. Usually you will have several weeks at least between the date of appointment and taking up your new position. Get yourself organised immediately and start thinking about your new role.

2. Brief yourself as fully as possible
Make contact with your new boss and obtain as much printed material as you can about your new organisation or position. This material will include mission statements, strategic plans, annual reports, organisational diagrams, projects in progress, productivity statements, policy handbooks, and the like.

Examine the material to become generally acquainted with the company - especially the part for which you will be responsible. Check out the qualifications and responsibilities of staff. Sort through the information provided, listing items about which you might need additional information.

3. Visit the organisation
If possible, take time out to visit the premises of your new organisation, preferably when no-one else is there. Walk around the buildings and environs. Visit empty offices or workrooms; read the bulletin boards. Browse and observe - not to be critical but to familiarise yourself with the surroundings. First impressions can be important later on, so take notes. In time, these notes can be very revealing.

4. Spend time with your predecessor
If possible, try to have a long discussion with your predecessor. You will not, of course, be committed to continuing your predecessor's policies; but you want as much inside information about the position and the organisation as possible, so the present incumbent is the best source.

Ask for any information not previously forwarded to you to help determine current practices and details about staff, products, policies, and procedures. Be a good listener but don't pursue issues which appear to be sensitive.
5. Meet your staff
It is much easier to begin at your new job if the rest of your team are not complete strangers. Explore the possibility of meeting with them informally for a brief chat over coffee or lunch. It may not be possible to meet with all staff at this early stage, but at least target the key players in your team.

6. Clarify your role
If you are head of a department or work group, it is a useful strategy to talk over your responsibilities in the organisation with your new boss. You won't want to discover anything unexpected on your first day! And if your position was recently created, find out why.

7. Plan your priorities
Having assembled a great deal of information about your new position and its environment and gained some preliminary impressions of the organisation's strengths and weaknesses, you can now begin to list some preliminary thoughts about short and longer term priorities for action. In determining your plans for the future, these points should be considered:
  • Do not attempt to be master of all aspects of your new position.
  • You do not have to do everything on your first day, or even your first week, or even your first month.
  • Avoid making snap judgements. Keep an open mind early on and make your final judgements later.
  • Your first staff meeting will be an important one: you will establish your level of leadership and lay the foundation for your tenure in the position. So think long and hard about making it a success.
  • You shouldn't have to establish your authority aggressively.
  • Decide how you intend to establish two-way channels of communication.
  • Consider how you intend in those early days to become more familiar with the people and the operations.
  • Don't form alliances too quickly.
  • Don't adopt a policy of wait and see. Show some initiative. What you do in those first few weeks will be setting the pattern for your leadership.
Here’s an idea
Derive the benefits of hindsight without the pain. If you're about to take up a new position, it's a good time to turn over a new leaf. In a nutshell, you can avoid making career damaging mistakes in your new position by:
  • Having a vision - and sticking to it. Petty day to day issues and conflicts are important only if they affect your outcome
  • Clarifying other people's expectations of you
  • Working at being an even better team player
  • Doing it, not just talking about it!
  • Admitting it when you're wrong
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This document does not constitute human resource or legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should contact the HR Help Desk or seek professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content. © Wentworth Advantage Pty Ltd 2017